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The two big French banks don't pay well. But one pays better than the other.

The truth about salaries and bonuses at BNP Paribas and SocGen

French banks are not known for their generosity when it comes to compensation. Tier one American investment banks are typically the most remunerative, followed by the Swiss and the Germans, followed by the British. French banks have a reputation for paying the least.

The remuneration reports just published by both SocGen and BNP Paribas appear to confirm this. As the chart below shows, the two biggest French banks paid their average member of regulated staff a lot less than their European rivals did last year. At SocGen in particular, the average material risk taker earned less than half that of a material risk taker at UBS and Credit Suisse, and half that of an MRT at Deutsche Bank.

Source: Banks' remuneration reports 

Not everyone at an investment bank can be a material risk taker. The title is given to banks' top traders, bankers, executives and members of risk and compliance staff. Some banks define material risk takers differently to others, but the figures do at least allow for a degree of comparability.

Salaries and bonuses at BNP Paribas's corporate and investment bank (CIB)

Last year, BNP Paribas's CIB employed 841 material risk takers. Last year, they each received an average salary of €379k and an average bonus of €358k. - Leading to total compensation of €737k ($829k) per head.

Salaries and bonuses at SocGen's corporate and investment bank (CIB)

Meanwhile, SocGen's CIB employed only 483 material risk takers in 2018. They each received an average salary of €357k and an average bonus of €283k. - Leading to total compensation of €640k ($720k).

Basically, SocGen's bankers receive smaller bonuses.

The upshot of all of this is that if you want to make big money at a French investment bank, you probably need to be working for BNP Paribas. The chart below shows the number of people across all of BNP Paribas and SocGen who fell into pay brackets above €1m last year. At BNP Paribas there were 181 of them. At SocGen, there were just 63. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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